Barrasso: National Legislation To Benefit Wyoming Ski Hills
Written by Andrew-Rossi on June 9, 2021
The S.H.R.E.D. Act would strengthen Wyoming ski hills and communities by ensuring fees paid to the U.S. Forest Service are invested back into winter recreation.
U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), introduced the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (S.H.R.E.D.) Act. If passed, ski hills in Wyoming and other states could find it easier to operate, expand, and earn in partnership the U.S. Forest Service.
This legislation will invest in outdoor recreation in mountain communities by ensuring National Forests retain a portion of the annual fees that ski areas operating within their boundaries pay to support local recreation and community priorities.
If implemented, the S.H.R.E.D. Act will establish a Ski Area Fee Retention Account to retain a portion of the fees that ski areas pay to the U.S. Forest Service. That fund will support winter recreation by directing excess funds to other National Forests that host ski areas to provide financial support in several areas.
- The Forest Service Ski Area Program
- Permitting needs
- Process proposals for improvement projects
- Training staff
- Wildlife Prevention
- Addressing broad recreation needs to meet the growing visitation and demand for outdoor recreation
The bill is also sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and is cosponsored by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), James Risch (R-ID), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Mike Crapo (R-ID).
“Wyoming is home to world class skiing. The resorts in the Jackson area and across the state are critical to our economy,” said Senator Barrasso. “Right now, Wyoming ski communities are sending money to Washington but not receiving the full benefits from those fees. Our legislation will help make the Forest Service a better partner. By creating a specific dedicated account for these fees, Wyoming skiing communities will get more bang for their buck. They will be able to provide an even better experience for visitors by improving their facilities, protecting the forests, and supporting the local economy.”
Several Wyoming ski hill owners endorse the new legislation, saying it will create an investment in their facilities and the adjacent communtiies that benefit from winter recreation.
Nick Piazza, owner of the Sleeping Giant Ski Area
“As a small family-owned ski area, Sleeping Giant would benefit greatly from this bill being passed. We pride ourselves on being one of the very few businesses that provides organized outdoor recreation opportunities in Park County in the winter. Our operations support our local economy, and any profits that we generate are spent on the ski area’s maintenance and development. We feel the unique outdoor experience that ski areas like ours provide to visitors of America’s national forests and parks are worthy of your support.”
Mary Kate Buckley, president of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
“National Forests are the centerpiece of America’s public lands and the Bridger Teton National Forest is host to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. We enthusiastically support Sen. Barrasso’s legislation and its establishment of the Ski Area Fees Retention Account, which will direct the fees that we pay to be re-invested locally to fund initiatives ranging from infrastructure, permitting, wildfire preparedness, avalanche awareness, education, visitor services and much more.”
Kelly Pawlak, president and CEO of the National Ski Areas Association
“Retaining a portion of ski area permit fees with the Forest Service has never been more important, and we applaud Sen. Barrasso’s efforts in support of outdoor recreation. As we look toward recovery in the coming months and years, boosting the agency’s ski area program capacity means that private capital can be invested in infrastructure on public lands instead of being sidelined. Mountain communities, ski areas, outfitter guides, and the millions of people who recreate on the National Forests will all benefit from this critical legislation.”
Aaron Bannon, executive director of America Outdoors
“What the bill’s Ski Area Fee Retention Account does for ski areas is a solid model for all facilitated recreation experiences. Outdoor recreation permit fees should be reallocated at the site, should be used to improve and enhance facilitated recreation experiences, and should be made available to help other sites address recreation programming needs that may not have the resources necessary at the local level.”